The fundamental role of the hypothalamus
and particularly of its sympathetic
division in the emotional process has been
established by the classical investigations
of Bard,1 Ranson,2 Hess,3 and many others.
Recent work4,5 showing that emotional reactions
may be evoked by stimulation and
ablation of rhinencephalic structures suggests
that hypothalamic excitability and
emotional reactivity depend not only on
reflex stimuli but also corticohypothalamic
interrelations.6,7 Neither these facts nor the
finding that impulses from the reticular
formation are necessary for the maintenance
of hypothalamic excitability and
wakefulness9 have altered the central role
which the hypothalamus plays in the
emotional process. They seem to imply,
however, that changes in hypothalamic excitability
may be achieved either via the
cortex or through reflexes involving the
hypothalamus. The apparent parallelism
between the state of excitability of the
hypothalamus and emotional reactivity
makes an investigation of the factors determining
hypothalamic excitability a matter
of importance for clinical
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